August 20 1979


August 20 1979


The cruel shes

I enjoyed going through A Good Man Can Be Expensive to Find (July 16) on the dowry system in India. Your expository treatment of this archaic but aliveand-well institution deserves praise. To make your treatment of the subject more complete, two glaring aspects may be noted in conjunction. One, the maltreatment of women (brides) under the practice of dowry is not substantially a feminist issue in India in the same way as, say, equal pay legislation. The qualification is due to the mother-in-law, who is most frequently the main instigator. The oppressed also include the bride’s parents who often have to pay dowry in the manner of settling a shylockian debt—being forced to sell property acquired through a lifetime’s savings. Two, the system is practised with equal zeal across class boundaries. Contrary to sociologists’ earlier beliefs, the voluminous amount of education acquired by the middle class has not reduced its stamina for this cruel and often criminal game. As a person who grew up in India, I may add that in a country divided by diverse languages and cultures, the dowry system is perhaps the only single unifying feature. The dowry system, as some of its supporters will argue, is a truly egalitarian concept—it does not discriminate on the basis of caste, race or class. It afflicts them all.



Sitting tall

As a longtime fan of Charlie Farquharson I was pleased to see his alternate persona, Don Harron, and spouse,

Catherine McKinnon, do their make-believe infidelity in Same Time, Next Year. And I was delighted that Maclean's let the nation know about this famous couple’s latest escapade (People, July 23). As a subscriber to Gryphon Theatre, I saw the play in Barrie; as a Farquharson/Harron fan, I’ll see it again in Toronto. Just one point: we in Barrie look upon the theatre at Georgian College as considerably more than “a little theatre in Barrie, Ontario.” With a seating capacity of 700, it is exceptionally well designed and versa-

tile—a setup which many, if not most, of the intimate theatres in New York and Toronto would envy.


Midsummer nights’ dreams

I agree with the suppositions made in Peter C. Newman’s editorial Why the Canada-U.S. Free-Trade Pact Could Garrote Our Dream of Nationhood (July 23), the final statement of which was: “It would mean the end of the Canadian dream.” However, to this I would add: it would also mean a slight altering of the American dream. The synthesis of these two dreams would be the North American dream, the economic efficiency and social splendor of which exceed either. The extremes of our two national ideologies would be moderated, with potential better living conditions for all.


The secret storm

In Spirits from Beyond the Grave, which accompanied Free Trade: The Disappearing Border (July 23), Kevin Doyle recognizes that little-known events of more than 30 years ago are relevant to the debate on Canada-U.S. trade relations which have recently been reopened. The circumstances were that a free-trade agreement was negotiated secretly in Washington between two designated teams—three officials on the U.S. side and two on the Canadian. The latter were John Deutsch and Hector McKinnon. The article does not mention McKinnon and I am concerned that his role should not be forgotten. Deutsch was a leading architect of the ill-fated ITO trade charter and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade that succeeded it. McKinnon was familiar with the Canadian tariff and the trading interests of every industry and region. It takes nothing away from Deutsch to recognize that Mackenzie King would have relied as much or more on McKinnon’s judgment at that time. Hector was senior and experienced while John was a rising star. King alone assigned them to their common task. He instructed them to tell no one. The instruction was disregarded to the extent that perhaps three senior officials were briefed quietly by McKinnon or Deutsch. The episode remains important and is bizarre from at least two points of view: that the secret was kept in two governments prone to leaks and that matters of such scope and portent in two major countries were handled by so few people.


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Because it was there

Shortly after I came to Canada from England, one of the first things that came to my attention was the fact that Canadians seem to have difficulty taking themselves and their nationhood seriously. Canadians were little-league, grateful for and surprised by any attention from more powerful countries. It is an infuriating characteristic and one that I regret doesn’t seem to have changed. I take as evidence of this the article U.S. Scribes Awake to the Sleeping Giant (July 23) which notes the fact that American papers are finally setting up bureaus in this country. Warren Gerard’s closing quotation (“Why would you come here?”) has caught the Canadian problem in a nutshell. We are in danger of being the last country to realize our economic, and hence political, potential.


A thorn among roses

It was instructive and refreshing to read Allan Fotheringham’s A Family Reunion . . . (July 23) on his family reunion in Saskatchewan. In several years of Fotheringham-watching, I cannot remember him penning such positive prose. He’s not much like his family, is he ...


Old games, new rules

In Lively Games of Robbing the Dead (July 9), William Lowther suggests that Canada should “look at the example now being set in the United States where Congress will vote this summer on new laws to stem the roaring trade in history.” He is referring to our Canadian heritage, particularly in the archeology field. Legislation similar to that which the U.S. is thinking about was enacted by the Parliament of Canada in June, 1975, and proclaimed in September, 1977. Canada is, today, one of the leading nations in restricting the export of its own cultural property as well as the import of cultural property illegally exported from reciprocating states. The U.S. is not yet a reciprocating state. Lowther’s suggestion that Canada does little to protect its heritage in cultural property is regrettable in that it will tend to encourage the perpetrators of the very actions which he is deploring.